Samuel and Edna Hill Preservation Site
On July 31st, 2019, a 90+ acre parcel of oak hickory woodlands and savanna located along IL Rt.2 was purchased by Middle Rock Conservation Partners. The site includes more than seventy acres of oak hickory woodlands and savanna. The purchase was made possible by a $466,000.00 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and generous private donations. The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation was established in December 1999 as an independent foundation with a $225 million endowment provided by Commonwealth Edison. Its mission is to improve energy efficiency, advance the development and use of renewable energy resources, and protect natural areas and wildlife habitat in communities across Illinois. To date, the Foundation has helped nonprofits and local governments purchase a total of 28,000 + acres of land through its Natural Areas grant program.
“In considering the grant request, the Foundation was impressed by the work of the Middle Rock Conservation Partners to develop a solid protection plan for this parcel and to raise additional private dollars to see it through,” said Dennis O’Brien, Executive Director of Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. “We are pleased to help create a brand-new preserve for the public to enjoy and feel confident that the important natural resources of the site are in good hands.”
The parcel purchased by Middle Rock Conservation Partners is now the Samuel and Edna Hill Preservation Site which will ultimately be open to the community for hiking, birding, and passive recreation.
This special land along the Rock River in Lee County contains ancient bur oak trees and woodland plants that provide needed habitat for declining species of birds and insects. Middle Rock Conservation Partners is a tax exempt not for profit organization comprised of individuals that are committed to protecting and stewarding habitat for species in the greatest need of conservation.
Travelers along Rt 2 just north of Dixon, near Grand Detour will notice changes in the coming months. A small parking lot is planned for the entrance along Rt.2. Initially the parking lot will provide access to Middle Rock Conservation Partners members so that they may begin stewardship at the site. This will include removing invasive species, clearing non-native trees, and cutting-in fire breaks that will allow prescribed fire on the site for management purposes. Regular burning keeps the brush in check and is critical to maintaining healthy prairie and woodland habitat. Ultimately, the entrance will be available to the public. Look for the signs directing you to the Samuel and Edna Hill Preservation Site.
Located along the Rock River habitat corridor, the site is home to many plants and animals, including a large diversity of birds. Middle Rock Conservation Partners will identify bird species present at the site both now and as restoration progresses. This kind of management should significantly increase the number of bird species and their abundance.
Although Middle Rock Conservation Partners is a relatively new organization, established in 2017, it has already raised donations from The National Wild Turkey Federation and individuals to purchase prescribed fire equipment and a trailer to haul the equipment. Since 2018 Middle Rock Conservation Partners has helped with natural areas stewardship at various sites in the area and will continue working to help maintain natural areas in Lee and Ogle counties. For information email:
Volunteers are needed for our monthly workdays, prescribed burns, fundraising, grant writing and for spreading the word about their work. Training and equipment for all activities is provided.